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Northwestern University

History Professors Reap Major Honors

Three professors in Weinberg College’s Department of History — Deborah Cohen, Scott Sowerby and Helen Tilley — have been singled out for recognition by some of the most prominent organizations in their field.

Deborah Cohen

Cohen, the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of the Humanities and a professor of history, has won two major prizes recently for her 2013 book Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain: the Morris D. Forkosch Prize from the American Historical Association, and the Stansky Book Prize from the North American Conference on British Studies.

It is the second time Cohen has won both awards, and she is the first person to have repeated both accomplishments. A previous book, Household Gods: The British and their Possessions, won both prizes in 2007.

The Forkosch Prize is in the category of post-1485 British and British Imperial/Commonwealth history, while the Stansky Prize is for the best book published by a North American scholar on any aspect of British studies since 1800

Family Secrets, which explores the role that family secrets have played in the transformation of social mores from the Victorian era to the present day, was also named a best book of the year by three United Kingdom publications: The Spectator, The Sunday Times and The Times Literary Supplement.

Cohen is a historian of modern Britain and Europe. In addition to Household Gods and Family Secrets, she is the author of a third book, The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914-1939, which received the Social Science History Association's Allan Sharlin Prize. She has held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, among others.

Learn more about Deborah Cohen

Scott Sowerby

Sowerby, an associate professor, has won the Whitfield Book Prize for his book, Making Toleration: The Repealers and the Glorious Revolution. The award, bestowed by the Royal Historical Society in the United Kingdom, recognizes the best first book on British or Irish history.

The judges called Sowerby’s work “an extraordinary feat of research in local record offices as well as national repositories,” adding that the book “presents a wholly new picture of the supporters of James II’s policy of religious toleration.”

Sowerby, a historian of early modern Britain and Europe, has also published articles in Past & Present, the Journal of British Studies, the English Historical Review and Parliamentary History.

Earlier this year, Sowerby received the Weinberg College Award for Distinguished Teaching. He teaches courses on Tudor-Stuart Britain, the history of gender and sexuality, and the early British Empire.

Learn more about Scott Sowerby

Helen Tilley

Tilley, an associate professor, is the winner of the Ludwik Fleck Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science for her 2011 book, Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950.

The book explores the dynamic interplay between scientific research and imperialism in British Africa between 1870 and 1950.

Tilley examines medical, environmental, and human sciences in colonial and post-colonial Africa, emphasizing intersections with environmental history, development studies, and world history.

She has written numerous articles and book chapters on the history of ecology, eugenics, agriculture, and epidemiology in tropical Africa, and is co-editor of Ordering Africa: Anthropology, European Imperialism and the Politics of Knowledge and Utopia-Dystopia: Historical Conditions of Possibility.

Learn more about Helen Tilley

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